My Coupon Binder

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on April 22, 2009

I have received MANY inquires about the now famous coupon binder that was seen in the Rachael Ray segment.

I used to house my coupons in an accordian folder.  I had it divided into several categories like food, household products, toilletry items, organic products, child items, as well as separate folders of specific store coupons.  I got tired of leafing through the mound of coupons in each category looking for the ones I wanted, so I switched to the coupon binder system.

In the front of the binder I keep all of the “must use” coupons.  For all my favorite products! 

The rest of the binder is filled with “baseball card inserts.”  I put coupons of similar category on each sheet.  I have organized it into sections with dividers.  I have similar categories/sections as my old accordian binder.  If you wanna get “super Type A,” you could arrange the sections in order of where you would find the products in the store.  I generally pull out my coupons before I go to the store.  But I do carry it with me in case I need to quickly flip through to find a coupon for an unadvertised sale item.

A few questions I get asked all the time. 

Is clipping coupons worth it?  Well, you saw in the segment that I saved $73!  So yes, it’s worth it! 

I never see coupons for the products I buy?  Yum, who doesn’t buy toothpaste.  Or deodorant!  Or mustard!!!  True, you might have to be a little more flexible and not too brand picky!  Let’s take that mustard coupon for example.  I clip it because I might use it.  I will hold onto it until the mustard goes on sale for $1.  My store will double coupons, so I will end up paying $.40 for a bottle of mustard that originally cost $2.19.  Yes, please!

Back to the binder…

Where did you find the baseball card inserts?

Walmart.  In the front section by the baseball cards.  Can also be found at baseball card shops.

How long did it take me to put this together?

However long the commercial breaks are during 24!  So…15-20 minutes.

How do you then keep it organized and cleaned up?

Each week I add new coupons to the pages.  Each month when all the new coupons and electronic coupons come out (stay tuned for a post on May 1 with all the details!), I go through and pull out expired coupons.

Are there any disadvantages to this system?

Yes.  Sometimes the coupons don’t fit well into the baseball card holders.  I try to fold them so I can see the exp. date, product name and coupon amount.  Solution to this: Look for some scrapbooking inserts that have different size photo slots.

If you have any other questions, leave them in the comments and I will answer them there!  (More on the newspaper insert concept, plus coupons and where to find them coming later in the week!)

Because there is not just one way to organize coupons, I thought I’d put a Mr. Linky.  I know there are other ways, tips and tricks for organizing coupons. If you have a post on your blog with that deals with “Coupon Organization” and what works best for you, please leave it here!  (For those of you reading in a reader or email, click here to look for more great ideas on how to best organize your coupons!)

{ 83 comments… read them below or add one }

Wendy April 22, 2009 at 5:26 pm

I use the same coupon system – it’s wonderful, so much better than anything else I’ve ever tried.

You did a great job on RR!

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Melissa April 22, 2009 at 5:31 pm

Your post is perfect timing! I have been contemplating leaving my accordian folders behind- and moving to the binder. It is great to see pictures of how it will look! Thank you for posting this!

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Jill April 22, 2009 at 5:35 pm

Your segment on RR was AWESOME! Loved it!

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A Cowboy's Wife April 22, 2009 at 5:50 pm

Thanks for the link up Erin! :)

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Shawna April 22, 2009 at 5:55 pm

This is the best idea EVER! Thank you! I’m going to get this set up right away!

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Kim April 22, 2009 at 5:58 pm

The binder is wonderful!! Finding you has come at a great time! I can’t wait to get to Wal-Mart to get my supplies and start sorting thru my coupons!

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Renae April 22, 2009 at 5:59 pm

I use the same system but haven’t thought if putting a sleeve at the front for “must use” coupons! What a great idea! And, yes, “couponing” is totally worth it!

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Renae April 22, 2009 at 6:00 pm

I use the same system but haven’t thought of putting a sleeve at the front for “must use” coupons-my fave ones seem to get overlooked a lot! What a great idea! And, yes, “couponing” is totally worth it!

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Midge April 22, 2009 at 6:06 pm

I have a little accordion folder that I keep my coupons in, I do agree that it is difficult to try to leaf though them to find what I need. I think I just might be switching this weekend to the binder!! I have some binder’s from college still (wow they sure are old) so I don’t have to buy them .. and I think my little brother has some old baseball card inserts! So, the switch will prolly cost me nothing! WOOHOO!!

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susieshomemade April 22, 2009 at 6:17 pm

I use a coupon binder however, I have been using page protectors (because I had them on hand). I think I will upgrade to the baseball card thing. It will make it so much easier to find things!! Thanks again for the tips! You rock:-)

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spaghetti April 22, 2009 at 6:27 pm

Of course I miss the good stuff….and it was the DAY i got my dvr! My friend is out of work on disability and calls me to tell me all about you….she didn’t remember the name, and I’m like ‘$5 dinners?’ And she’s like ‘YUP’! She’s a great gal…she’d come to A and P with me on lunch and I’d score some great deals…I only do the super great deals at A and P. The one day, my order was $40, then I swiped my club card and did my Qs (self checkout) and it was 2.19 and 1 and change was TAX! She could not take her jaw off the floor! lol

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Mirandia Berthold April 22, 2009 at 6:28 pm

I love this! I have been working on mine too the past few nights! I wanted to share with everyone that if you clip coupons and you have some that expire or are really close to expiring and you are not going to use them DO NOT throw them away! There is a program that is awesome where you can donate them to military families. Coupons for military families can be used up to 6 months after the expiration date in overseas commissaries and they still even double them for them which is great. I use the program a ton as we are former military and I loved that I could use those expired coupons at the commissary! Here is the website for the program for anyone interested:http://www.ocpnet.org/

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LinearChaos April 22, 2009 at 6:30 pm

My coupon binder is my magic money saving book! I have a huge binder with a shoulder strap to carry around with me. This is the only method of organizing coupons that I have found to be effective and neat. It’s so easy to find what I’m looking for vs leafing through a handful of coupons out of my accordion folder.

There are some really great videos on YouTube that show how others organize their binders. I don’t think any two couponers do it the same!

Great post!!

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Jackie April 22, 2009 at 6:31 pm

What a wonderful idea! With the economy the way it is I may have to go back to clipping coupons soon.

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Jessica April 22, 2009 at 6:36 pm

I’ve been enjoying your website for awhile now. Was I psyched to see the Rachel Ray appearance! How awesome. Thanks for sharing the binder concept. I need a new system.

I am so jealous of your Krogering. I am from OH originally,and miss that store!

Thanks for all your hard work and good luck with pregnancy # 3!

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Emmy April 22, 2009 at 6:41 pm

Your binder looks less intimidating than some. I prefer the brag book method, but this looks like something I could do as well.

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jen [@bwJen] April 22, 2009 at 6:47 pm

I don’t use coupons. I know I should but I never have and I really have no idea where to start. I don’t get the paper delivered (I am an online girl). Can you help me get started?

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Chelsea April 22, 2009 at 6:57 pm

I had a question for you regarding the coupons..

You said on your RR segment that you take the number of coupons for an item for the number of people in your family. I want to make sure I have this right, so you use 4 coupons on one product?

I have found that my grocery store has the self-check out lanes and I will use those and then since no one is looking at my coupons, I always end up using the old expired ones as they will still ring up. It’s a little more time at the grocery store, but worth the savings!

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Heidi @ Frugal Girls! April 22, 2009 at 7:02 pm

Thanks Erin ~ I love your binder! I just posted a link to my coupon basket too. :)

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Lea Ann April 22, 2009 at 7:22 pm

I use CD holder pages instead of baseball card pages…they have 2 pockets per page and have flaps to keep coupons from falling out. Also, my binder is a zippered one, because boys tend to use it as a football, or footstool, or doorstop, or weapon of mass destruction. Again, nothing falls out.

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Judith April 22, 2009 at 7:30 pm

Erin, I DVR’d the Rachel Ray show and just watched it tonight… WONDERFUL! You looked so calm. And the taped parts from your home looked great. Altogether awesome job! Hope you get to go back again == and again!
Thanks for your blog. Hubs and I are back down to just us (it was 3, then 4, then 3 and now 2, as adult kids came and left again!) and we still work at saving money on dinner (so we can afford to eat breakfast several times a week at our favorite neighborhood bistro!)
Blessings!

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Michelle April 22, 2009 at 7:52 pm

I also use a 3 ring binder and baseball card inserts to organize my coupons. I also have a zippered pencil holder that fits into the binder in the front of mine. I use this to put the coupons that I am using that trip. It makes it much easier to just pull out the coupon I’m using and put it into that holder. I also have a small pair of scissors that I leave in that pouch so I can easily cut out any coupons that may be in the store ads.

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Joy April 22, 2009 at 8:28 pm

I use the same system, alphabetized. I used a zipper binder so I won’t loose anything.
Great job on the show. I enjoyed your segment.

Joy

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Briana April 22, 2009 at 8:40 pm

Your binder is so cute! :)

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Elisabeth April 22, 2009 at 8:55 pm

I loved your segment on RR! I’m like Jen though, and don’t get a newspaper delivered (husband thinks it’s a waste of money). Are there online options as well? I’d love to make a huge dent in my shopping bill!

Also, have you always been this organized, or did it take you awhile to get this way? I work full time and I am not the most organized, so I’m afraid I would struggle with this!

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Dana Krebsbach April 22, 2009 at 8:57 pm

You were great on RR. I love your $5 dinners. Made your mexican skillet dish last night and it was yummy. I love your coupon binder and cannot wait to get all of my coupons organized. Love your site. Keep up the good work. God Bless you with your pregnancy (I have 5 children) and thanks again.

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shelia: just getting started. need all the help i can get April 22, 2009 at 8:58 pm

i need all the info i can get…

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Carrie April 22, 2009 at 8:59 pm

Saw you on Rachael Ray – great job! I like your system for organizing the coupons.

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shelia: just getting started. need all the help i can get April 22, 2009 at 9:00 pm

send me information on getting started.

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Jen@Balancing Beauty and Bedlam April 22, 2009 at 9:43 pm

It’s amazing what an hour a week can do for the budget. I linked up my very first grocery post, and since then have revamped quite often. :) Thought I’d dig through the archives.

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Shell April 22, 2009 at 9:59 pm

I use a similar system. I think where I differ is how I organize coupons when I’m at the store. (I use a two envelope system.) I also make my own page protector/Q holders. Thanks for sharing and allowing us to share!

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JULIE April 22, 2009 at 10:06 pm

I use the same system and LOVE it!!! I do each category and then place them in the baseball card inserts by expiration date in each category. I usually take the coupons I will be using out beforehand but take my binder just in case. There are also many different sizes of those sheets. Here is a website where you can browse and see where you can buy them.

http://www.ultrapro.com/page.php?pname=sports/pages PHPSESSID=c217796574ef9f8b631f7109ec4de4bc

I plan on using this system with recipes as well. Haven’t started but hope to soon!

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wendy lee April 22, 2009 at 10:15 pm

I didn’t know that stores would let you use more than one coupon for the same item. You said you bought a newspaper for each family member. I am not sure if stores around here(Maine) will let you do that. I am certainly going to try.

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Natashia Bowers April 22, 2009 at 10:20 pm

I have a question about this coupon doubling thing… can anyone explain this to me? I would love to find out if any of my stores will do this but just dont know what i should be asking.
Is this using 2 coupons on one product?… it would be great if someone could email me! Thank you!

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AmandaonMaui April 22, 2009 at 10:26 pm

The stores in my area don’t send out coupons, and there aren’t coupon inserts in the paper either. We just get ads about the sales. I’m wary of downloading coupon software, and the bf doesn’t really like the idea of it. I also don’t want to have to pay for coupons either. I am mainly trying to buy local and non-prepared foods; and box foods seem to be the things coupons are for.

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Katie April 23, 2009 at 1:18 am

I also saw you on RR and was impressed. Like many, my family is looking for a way to cut costs and this is going to be great. Thank you for sharing your great system with so many.

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Lisa April 23, 2009 at 6:18 am

sometimes I have more than one coupon for an item I need. Can you sue both of them on one item? Thanks-Coupon Newbie

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Heather April 23, 2009 at 7:49 am

Just wanted to say- I am so glad I subscribed to your list :) This binder is a great idea, I am a coupon junkie who has had the accordian style coupon holders and on 2 separate occasions have had a least a 100 good coupons (including numerous free item coupons) and have gotten home from shopping when I realized I had lost my coupon holder and all its contents (sobbing).
thanks for the great idea! :)

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Jennifer April 23, 2009 at 8:00 am

I have a binder similar to yours, except my zips closed. It is frustrating that most coupons don’t fit nicely into the baseball card slots. Having things laid out this way makes it so much easier when I am in the store. I can quickly flip through and find the coupon I need.

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Stephanie April 23, 2009 at 8:30 am

I have been using a binder for a few months now I LOVE my binder!! Its so much easier (and faster) than the files. I use a zipper binder because I was afraid of dropping it :)

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Toni April 23, 2009 at 8:43 am

Erin, Glad to see you are using the binder method now. Welcome to the dark side. LOL I need to upgrade my binder to a larger one.

You did a great job on RR. Let us know when you go back to cook.

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Elizabeth Rehn April 23, 2009 at 8:44 am

I am working on my binder now, and have the kids helping me. I homeschool, so this will be part of our school work today. I think organizing and saving money is a big lesson all should know. I buy my papers from a street corner and pay 1.00 per paper. ( I live near Baltimore, MD so you can find them on Sunday morning everywhere) Also I post an ad on craigs list under wanted for coupon inserts. I usually pick up about 10 to 15 a week. I also tell the people at my church that if they don’t want their coupon pass them to me. Just the past two days I have saved over 350.00 at Safeway with my coupons and the sales ad. Loved your RR segment, I pray that she will have you back again. Thank you for your website and your recipes.

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Sassy April 23, 2009 at 8:58 am

This is brilliant! I had bought one of those multiple file sorter that I can take and go but I couldn’t see the coupons therefore I wouldn’t use them or I would overlook that coupon when I planned to use them.

This method is amazing. And my husband has tons of baseball card and photo sheet protectors!

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Allison April 23, 2009 at 9:06 am

I use the same system and like it when I can find the time to update it (we don’t watch commercials in our house thanks to the DVR…lol). But my question is: what are your categories? I can’t seem to find categories that really work for me. Do you also use your binder for household and personal care items? I’m actually more of a CVS dealer than a grocery dealer, but do a bit of both, so I want to keep all those coupons together if possible. Thanks and it was great seeing you on Rachael Ray after reading your blog for awhile!!!

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Blakely April 23, 2009 at 9:18 am

I also use the coupon binder and I love it. I found my baseball card organizers at Office Depot.

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Brandis April 23, 2009 at 10:30 am

Your binder is way prettier than mine! Love the flowers:)

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Natashia April 23, 2009 at 11:08 am

Can anyone explain to me what coupon doubling is?

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Patty April 23, 2009 at 11:14 am

Great job on the RR Show! I’ve been trying to move to the binder method but am not sure how to handle the multiples of coupon inserts I receive. I’ve asked neighbors for their inserts, if they aren’t going to use them. Some weeks I end up with 12 copies of the paper! What a blessing! I currently write the date of the insert and file them by the week and try to clip all the “must use” coupons and place them in my binder but it just doesn’t seem to flow very well. Any thoughts?

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Meredith April 23, 2009 at 11:15 am

Your coupon binder looks amazing, but I just don’t collect enough coupons to justify a switch from my coupon wallet.

Maybe it is just the difference of being in Canada, where we don’t seem to get quite as many coupons as in the USA? Even in Canada, coupons definitely save me money!

Your site has inspired me to keep better tabs on what each recipe I make costs. Some recipe costs have been eye opening.

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Stephanie April 23, 2009 at 12:12 pm

Thanks for posting this! Right now I have a small accordian file organized with my coupons and have them in diff. sections and in order of where they are in the store, but I’ve been thinking about going to a binder. Also, just wanted to say I love 24!!

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